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Thursday, 5 October, 2000, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Munster overcome spirited Newport
Munster 26-18 Newport
Last year's European Cup finalists Munster tore into new-boys Newport in front of a fervent home crowd.
The Irish side raced to an early 15-0 lead, but their visitors - playing in their first Heineken Cup - launched a brave fight back
Newport's pack is full of experienced internationals like Gary Teichmann and Adrian Garvey, and they began to match the home side blow for blow.
Two second-half tries from wing Ben Breeze helped Newport back into contention, but they were never able to overcome the early deficit and Munster will be delighted at the winning start to their new campaign.
Newport were reeling after some cruel early blows. A second-minute Ronan O'Gara penalty was soon followed by the injury departure of centre Jason Jones-Hughes - he was replaced by Jon Pritchard.
Munster's pack was in furious form, and from a short line out hooker Frankie Sheahan - understudy last year to the departed Keith Wood - was able to burrow over for the first try.
Another short line out developed into a maul from which veteran captain Mick Galwey peeled off for the second try.
It was looking ominous for the Welsh at 15-0, but their pack got with the pace and began to match the rampant Irish.
Two Shane Howarth penalties helped calm their nerves, but on the stroke of half time Jon Pritchard lost the ball in midfield, allowing wing Anthony Horgan to kick through.
Howarth fell on it but was unable to control the ball, and Horgan was able to gather and score.
The 20-6 half-time lead always looked to be too much for the visitors.
Immediately after the break, though, Newport bravely ran a kickable penalty. Andy Marinos made the break, it was fed along the line and Pini freed Breeze in the corner. A touch-line Howarth conversion gave Newport hope.
Munster dug in and the game became a bitter battle for possession.
Two O'Gara penalties built the home side's lead, and a second Breeze try in the corner - made by a floated Howarth pass - was too little, too late.
Munster captain and Ireland lock Mick Galwey praised Welsh opponents Newport for holding them to a 26-18 margin on their debut in the Heineken Cup.
"It was a hard, tough game and I'm not looking forward to the return in Newport," said Galwey.
"We put them under pressure and they gave away penalties from which we scored tries.
"But they were a very well drilled side, they kept coming at us and they forced us to make mistakes."
Newport captain Gary Teichmann said his side's focus in the first part of the game will have to improve.
"We knew Munster were a top side and that they would come at us, but they still scored 15 points early on which is unacceptable," he said.
"We came back and scored some nice tries, but our game against Bath next Friday night really is a must-win situation now.
"We showed we can compete at this level, but we have just got to get it right."
Scorers - Munster: Tries: F Sheahan, M Galwey, A Horgan; Con: R O'Gara; Pens: O'Gara (3)
Newport: Tries: B Breeze (2); Cons: S Howarth (2); Pen: Howarth
Munster: D Crotty, J Kelly, M Mullins, J Holland, A Horgan, R O'Gara, P Stringer, P Clohessy, F Sheahan, J Hayes, M Galwey (capt), J Langford, A Quinlan, D Wallace, A Foley
Newport: M Pini, M Mostyn, J Jones-Hughes, A Marinos, B Breeze, S Howarth, D Edwards, R Snow, J Richards, A Garvey, S Raiwalui, I Gough, P Buxton, A Popham, G Teichmann (capt)
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